February 4, 2019 9.10 am This story is over 31 months old

Martin Hill: Brexit means Brexit!

Latest column by Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

Just a few weeks after our new year and festive celebrations it’s back to the normal routine of everyday life.

As you will no doubt have noticed, this means the resumption of the parliamentary discussions and debate over how to implement our exit from the EU as voted for by the majority of those who took part in the referendum.

It won’t surprise you to know that most people I speak to as I travel around the county are frankly bored by the proceedings in the House of Commons – the usual comment being “I wish they would just get on with it”.

Both remainers and leavers are fed up in equal measure. I have to say I sympathise, particularly as we in Lincolnshire voted by a large majority to leave, despite dire warnings of doom and gloom which were threatened at the time.

We had a vote and it’s up to parliament to implement the decision which was taken.

As leader of a council and a long-standing local politician, I believe that when in negotiation you are in a stronger position if you keep your cards close to your chest, especially when starting out.

This is where our government has failed so far by not being strong enough in aiming for the best possible deal.

However, following agreement by MPs that Theresa May should go back to the EU to renegotiate terms surrounding the Irish backstop I feel much more optimistic.

Up until this point, it seems that we have always been on the back-foot during the negotiations. We’ve almost begged the EU to allow us to leave while at the same time being allowed to retain the benefits of being in the club. Not unreasonably the EU said this is not possible.

Now we’re in a position to be much more forceful and I am hopeful that the parliamentary vote will have sent a clear message to Brussels.

MPs ruling out any options, including a so called “no deal Brexit”, will only have the result of further weakening our negotiating position with Europe.

Whatever happens, it is important that those of us who are elected keep our promises and genuinely try and reflect the decision of the public. Failure to do so will only undermine respect for democracy and increase the risk of more apathy towards politics or even worse, embolden those at the extremes.

It is really quite simple – we voted to leave. The only issue for MPs should be to deliver an exit from the EU which genuinely respects the spirit of that decision.

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Councillor Martin Hill is the leader of Lincolnshire County Council.